|December 6, 2000
The Rudolph Mysteries
"You have an instant message from Jaymi!" David shouted to me from the other room last night.
It was only 8 p.m., but I was already fully-jammied and tucked snugly into bed ... knocked out by a long day of high heels, low pressure systems and serious Executive Assitude. I figured I would watch a little TV and drift off early, while David did some graphic work out on the computer. Unfortunately, I had just discovered that "That 70's Show" and "Titus" were being pre-empted for yet another stoopid music awards show -- Britny and Justin and Christina: oh boy -- and I was reaching to snap off the TV in disgust when David bellowed.
"What does she say?" I shouted back ... too lazy/too comfortable to climb out of bed.
"She says you're missing 'Rudolph,' " he replied.
Oh my god. RUDOLPH. I had totally forgotten about Rudolph!
For almost forty years, watching "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" has been as important a part of the holiday season as taping Christmas cards to the walls ... tossing fifty-cent tinsel on a forty-dollar Noble Fir ... picking chewed-up candy canes out of those crumbling back molars. It is my third-favorite Christmas special of all time, right after "The Snowman" and the George C. Scott version of "A Christmas Carol."
Plus: it's incredibly bad luck if I miss it. (Usually it means Santa is gonna bring me another fudking Dustbuster.)
I fired off a quick thank-you message to Jaymi for reminding me -- "No problem," she typed back, as we both twinkled offline simultaneously -- and I joyously ran to change the channel.
The show, of course, hasn't changed. The stop-action animation, from a 21st Century perspective, seems comically unsophisticated. I hear Burl Ives' voice and I still automatically think "That guy's got bodies hidden in the crawlspace." And all the storyline inconsistencies and weirdness that bugged my brother and me, as we watched the show back in the 60's and 70's, are still as baffling as ever.
Why is the Abominable Snow Monster HUGE in some scenes, but only as tall as a Christmas tree in other scenes?
Why is the totally-normal-looking pigtailed doll living on the Island of Misfit Toys? (Is she anatomically incorrect under that little gingham dress or something?)
Why -- if this blizzard is so big and powerful and terrible that they have to cancel Christmas outright -- doesn't it blow Sam the Snowman and his stoopid umbrella to smithereens?
Why are BUNNIES living at the North Pole?
But even more amazing to me as I watched 'Rudolph' last night -- for what I calculate to be the thirty-fourth or thirty-fifth time, give or take the occasional year missed to childbirth, chat rooms or cheap chablis -- is how much my perception of it has changed. Maybe it's because I'm watching it sober these days. Maybe it's because I'm growing up finally. But for whatever reason, last night I saw things I've never really noticed before about my third-favorite Christmas show of all time.
Having said all that ... I'm glad I watched the show last night.
It still gives me a warm fuzzy holiday glow, every time I watch it. I still cry when Clarice sings "There's Always Tomorrow" ... and I cry again at the very end, when they stop at the island and pick up the misfit toys. And the fact is that Christmas just wouldn't feel like "Christmas" to me without my yearly dose of Rankin-Bass, Johnny Marks, Burl Ives, stop-motion animation and North Pole bunnies.
Thanks for reminding me, Jaymes. I owe you one.